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Lake Erie & Western New York Fishing Hotline

August 16 to August 23, 2019

Free Fishing on Lake Ontario, Lower Niagara River and St. Lawrence River for all anglers, now through September 2, 2019. No fishing license required! During this time, all applicable state and federal laws and regulations regarding seasons, catch rates, and size limits still apply.

Lake Erie

The walleye fishing off Buffalo has fallen off as fish move west. Sturgeon Point is also a little slow, with better catches for those who motor west to depths over 65 feet. Anglers fishing off Cattaraugus Creek to the PA line report very good to excellent walleye fishing. The walleye haven't been picky either, readily hitting stickbaits, spoons and worm harnesses. Out of the Catt, anglers are picking up limits in 70-80 feet of water on gear run between 50 feet down and the bottom. Depths of 70-90 feet have recently been very productive off Dunkirk. Eyes have been biting well off Barcelona all season and anglers have recently been filling their boxes in 65-90 feet of water. Most of the action off Dunkirk and Barcelona has been in the bottom third of the water column. However, northeast winds at mid-week caused some upwellings of colder water which scattered fish. Temperature profiles should be back to normal by the weekend, but fish may still be more scattered within the water column.

Coldwater upwellings generally occur due to stiff or sustained northeast winds. During these events, coldwater can be pushed much closer to the surface or into shallower depths, thus scattering fish. If fishing during or shortly after an upwelling, the shallower or deeper offshore waters typically have more stable temperature profiles and are more productive.

The relatively few anglers who are targeting lake trout are doing well out of Dunkirk and Barcelona. Head for depths of 110 feet plus. Spoons run close to the bottom are a good bet, but lakers may also be suspended. Yellow perch fishing has generally been slow. Anglers have been picking up some decent catches at times off Dunkirk in 50-60 feet of water. There have also been some incidental catches for those fishing walleye out of Sturgeon and Cattaraugus Creek.

Niagara River

The walleye and smallmouth bass action has been good in the lower Niagara River lately. Walleye are available from mid-river down to the Niagara Bar. Drifting with a bottom bouncing rig and worm harness or yellow sally rig (with worm) are traditional lower river walleye tactics. Be aware, there is a minimum size of 18" and daily limit of 3 for walleye in the lower river. Anglers are catching good numbers of sizeable bass from Devils Hole down to the bar. Anglers can target bass by drifting with bottom bouncing rigs with shiners, crayfish and tubes, or by casting stickbaits towards shore. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information see the Fishing the Lower Niagara River page.

Lake Ontario

At report time, the launches at Fort Niagara State Park (north launch only), Town of Wilson, Wilson-Tuscarora State Park, Town of Newfane (Olcott) and Golden Hill State Park are open. However, open launches may have intermittent closures due to Lake Ontario flooding. It is best to call ahead. You may need to center launch without aid of launch docks at any Niagara County launch except Town of Newfane launch.

There has recently been two productive zones off Olcott. Anglers are picking up a fair number of mature king salmon in 100-150 feet of water, with some trout mixed in. Over deep waters of 300 feet plus, trollers are catching king salmon of mixed ages and steelhead. Similarly, Oak Orchard trollers are catching some mature kings in 80-125 feet of water and a good mix of kings and steelhead at depths of 300 feet plus. Meat rigs, flasher-fly combos and large spoons are good salmon offerings. The Niagara Bar "ledge" in 100-200 feet of water is another good spot to target kings. We're getting closer to the mature king salmon staging period, so don't overlook nearshore depths of 50-100 feet near stocked streams for mature kings at daybreak. For those new to fishing Lake Ontario, visit the Trolling for Lake Ontario Trout and Salmon page for more information.

Chautauqua Lake

The north basin is still producing some decent walleye catches in 20-30 feet of water. Try tolling worm harnesses or stickbaits near the bottom or vertical jigging with blade baits, jigging Rapalas and jigs tipped with a nightcrawler. Muskellunge fishing has been decent to good, with catches coming along weed edges and over deeper water (suspended). Largemouth bass are available in shallower, weedy areas and readily hit surface lures, live shiners and spinnerbaits. Smallmouth bass are found along deeper rocky points and drops outside of the weedline. Live crayfish, shiners and leeches work well. Visit the Chautauqua Lake page for more fishing information.

Inland Trout Fishing

Best to avoid trout fishing in the late afternoon, as stream water temperatures are elevated at that time and possible lethal to played trout. Tricos are now hatching on some streams and anglers can do well with imitations in the morning hours. Anglers can see surface action on terrestrial patterns such as ants, foam beetles and grasshoppers. Fish terrestrial patterns on a dead drift, giving a slight twitch every now and again to imitate a struggling insect. Western New York anglers have a variety of Wild Trout Streams, Stocked Streams and Stocked Lakes to choose from. Public Fishing Rights Maps are available for many of the region's best streams. Check out the Fishing for Stream Trout page for introductory information on trout baits, lures, fishing equipment and techniques.

If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716-851-7010; fwfish9@dec.ny.gov). Good Luck Fishing!

The fishing hotline can also be heard at (716) 679-ERIE or (716) 855-FISH.